I played through Nintendo’s New Super Mario Bros. 2 demo twice while I was in the Nintendo Gaming Lounge at the Marriott (once on Friday and once on Sunday). It was incredibly fun, even though it felt really familiar.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is the third game in the New Super Mario Bros. style (the first being New Super Mario Bros. on the DS and the second being New Super Mario Bros. Wii). Nintendo decided that if they were going to make another game in the New Super Mario Bros. series, they’d need something to change it up…
The big difference between New Super Mario Bros. 2 and it’s predecessors is it’s new focus: collecting coins. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is all about coins and attempting to collect one million of ‘em. Of course, collecting a million coins wouldn’t normally be easy, but many, many new ways have been added to the game to make nabbing insane amounts of coins easier. In the three level demo I managed to collect over a thousand without really trying.
Of the many new ways to make coin collecting easier and more interesting, perhaps the most fun addition is the Gold Flower. When Mario collects the Gold Flower he turns into Gold Mario, which allows him to throw fireballs that turn enemies into coins and can turn many brick blocks at once into coins.
The other fantastic thing about New Super Mario Bros. 2 is that it marks the return of Raccoon Mario. Like Super Mario Bros. 3, when Mario collects the Super Leaf he gains ears and a tail which allow him to take to the skys. Flying with Raccoon Mario is (in my opinion) one of gamings most fun experiences. It truly is joyful to once again fly high above Goombas and Koopas and leave them far behind as you soar to the end of Mario stages. Even though the Super Leaf (the power-up that grants you the Raccoon suit or Tanooki suit depending on the game) made a return in Super Mario 3D Land, it was a bit of a let down as you were unable to fly (you could only float slowly downward).
With a 2D platformer, you wouldn’t expect the 3DS’s 3D effect to really jump out at you. While there was nothing in the demo that really made you go “WHOA”, the little bits here and there definitely enhanced it. Mario and the platforms are up front while the background scenery is waaaaaaaay in the back. It made it very pleasurable to view while not seeming gimmicky and not doing many fancy effects that may cause eyestrain over time.
In addition to all these great new features, there are plenty of other new features I didn’t get to try out, such as the two-player mode. The entire New Super Mario Bros. 2 game is playable with a second player (on a second 3DS). The two players can work together to beat the game.
Although it’s hard to complain about a new Mario platformer, one thing bugged me in the 3DS demo. While you can play the game using the d-pad or circle pad, the obvious and most comfortable way to play is with the circle pad (because, if you haven’t played the 3DS, the circle pad sits directly under your thumb while the d-pad is at an odd location below it). Now, as much as I love this flat analog stick for full 3D games (like Super Mario 3D Land and the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D), it is not the ideal control for a 2D platformer where every jump has to be exact or you crash headlong into a enemy or fall a pit of lava. It could be just me, but I seemed to be rather slippery and inaccurate most of the time I played it. I found I could get it work correctly toward the end of my time with the game, but it still never felt “right”.
Overall I found New Super Mario Bros. 2 to be an incredible addition to the franchise. Even though I found the circle pad a little annoying, it still was one of the most fun 3DS games I’ve played. I can’t wait to play more when it is released both as a physical and digital game August 19th (the same day as the 3DS XL).